Middle East food trends: Health, wellness and packaging taking centre stage

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Gulfood Manufacturing will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Gulfood Manufacturing will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Related tags Gulfood Manufacturing Dubai Health and wellness

Food and beverages that promote health and wellness continue to shape the Middle East food manufacturing industry, said Mark Napier, who is the exhibitions director at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and show director of Gulfood Manufacturing.

“More consumers are paying greater attention to what goes into their bodies,” ​Napier explained in an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia.

Besides healthier and fresher options, product packaging is also affecting consumers’ decision to purchase.

The packaging industry in the Middle East is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% up to 2019, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the region, according to a report by Alpen Capital.

“Key ingredients and packaging trends that are shaping the food and beverage industry include fresh and health food that comes in convenient, colourful packaging; the rise of ecommerce and technology,” ​Napier said.

“Further to this, consumers are concerned with sustainability, provenance of their food and also the packaging the food is delivered in.”

Indeed, during the recent specialty food festival held in Dubai, organic and gluten free food products – ranging from pastries, snacks, coffee beans to protein bars comprised the bulk of products exhibited, according to report from local media Gulf News.

On the other hand, Napier cautioned that the food industry in the Middle East is “facing ongoing challenges and shifting parameters, from changing consumer preference and demand, to the rise in urbanisation and population.

“Add those elements to greater consumer purchasing power and the need for instant gratification, F&B manufacturers are facing a constant challenge to meet demand.”

The Gulfood Manufacturing, which is into its 5th​ year, will take place in the DWTC from November 6-8.

Food Tech Summit

New to this year’s edition is the “FoodTech Summit”. It is a conference that brings together industry heavyweights and decision makers who will debate the use of next-generation technologies in the food manufacturing industry.

Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), block chain, robotics, and AI are some of the topics that will be discussed.

On the other hand, the popular ‘Big Buyers’ programme, which offers focused networking and deal making, will welcome 2,000 pre-selected buyers.

In total, 1,600 suppliers from 60 countries will be exhibiting this year.

The exhibition will focus on five core sectors, including ingredients, processing, packaging, automation and controls, and supply chain solutions.

“Gulfood Manufacturing strives to bridge those gaps and address current and future challenges by providing exhibitors with the ideal platform to meet and network with industry experts and professionals and demonstrate how they have the answers to meet the constantly shifting demands of consumers and the needs of the industry,” ​said Napier.

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